Feb 25, 2022 Leaving Church – Words of Grace Blog – February 25, 2022
Don’t let the title throw you. I don’t mean “leaving church” as in finding another one. Or leaving church to never attend again. By “leaving church,” I mean being sent out after the weekly gathering of the congregation to live for God’s glory in the world until we regather the next Sunday.
In the last two Words of Grace, we considered how to prepare for and attend church. Now let’s think about how we leave church.
At church, we see people and hear snippets of their stories. We participate in Bible study, hear sermons, sing songs, and pray. By God’s grace, we have an encounter with the Living Word through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our minds are cleared, our hearts are filled, and we are prepared to walk another week by faith.
Then what? Off to lunch with little thought of the past two hours? Spiritual amnesia, forgetting what lies behind and pressing on to what lies ahead in a way the Apostle Paul did not mean?
How about we develop the discipline of leaving church in a way that savors the grace we received and gives it to others. Here are some ideas for doing so.
Take the word of God with you. The hours after the sermon are as important as the hour of the sermon. Why is that? Because when we hear the word, we are called to be “doers who act, not hearers who forget (James 1:22-25).” The best way to forget the word is to mentally leave it in the seat when we walk out of church. Take the word with you by continuing to ponder it at home that day, in a small group among friends, and all week as you pray.
Pray as you drive home. I often encourage people to pray as the drive to church. It’s also important to pray after church. Think about the people you talked to that day and the ones you said you would remember in prayer. Then pray for them. Pray that the word that was preached and taught will take root in hearts and produce fruit in our congregation. Give thanks and pray for the people who served the congregation. Pray for the ministry of Grace Community Church and the faith and work of our people in the week ahead.
Follow-up on people. If you met a new person at church and got their contact information, send them a note the next week. Call the person who shared their burden with you. Find out how the meeting, interview, project, or dreaded conversation went for someone. Connect the weekly gathering for worship with contacts during the week.
Live like a missionary. At Grace, we want to build spiritually healthy people for life and ministry in the world. It should be our earnest prayer to be built up in faith, hope, and love each Sunday, and then to be launched out to neighborhoods, schools, jobs, and relationships as salt, light, and witnesses of the grace of God in Christ. Each week of work and witness begins with a Sunday of worship.
Plan to return. Who will you plan to see next Sunday? Who will you invite to attend church with you? How will you prepare to serve? Join me every Monday as I start getting ready for the next Sunday.